Riot Games has announced the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Game Changers program, a new initiative that will supplement the competitive season by creating new opportunities and exposure for marginalized genders within the game. Game Changers will be a year-long effort to build a Valorant Champions Tour that is more representative of the diversity of the Valorant community.
Riot Games Senior Esports Director Whalen Rozelle said:
“Game Changers will provide tournaments and development programs for women who want to take their game beyond competitive ladder play.
With Valorant esports, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive environment for competition and creating safe opportunities for women to compete without fear of identity or gender-based harassment.”
Game Changers will consist of two core competitive initiatives, the VCT Game Changers Series and the VCT Game Changers Academy. The VCT Game Changers Series is a set of top tier competitions that will take place around the world during the course of 2021.
These events, and their prize pools, will be similar in scale to last year’s Ignition Series tournaments, with the first event scheduled for late March for North American competitors hosted by Nerd Street Gamers.
The VCT Game Changers Academy program will host monthly tournaments, giving players even more opportunities to compete at the semi-pro and grassroots level. Academy events will be organized in partnership with GALORANTs, one of the largest communities within Valorant.
GALORANTs previously helped organize the “For the Women Summer Showdown” tournament in September 2020. Both the VCT Game Changers Series and Academy will help build the next generation of leaders who aspire to succeed with the competitive VALORANT community.
Valorant Executive Producer Anna Donlon said:
“Competing in games as a woman can be a daunting task, oftentimes resulting in a very real competitive disadvantage.
While we’re addressing this challenge in-game, with improvements to chat, voice communications, and mitigation of griefing, we also see an opportunity to take another step with esports.”
Valorant quickly established itself as a fan-favourite among the global first-person shooter community after launching its closed beta in April 2020. The game made history on its first day, breaking viewership records with 34 million hours-watched in a single day, and surpassing 1.7 million peak concurrent viewers, a peak concurrent record second only to Riot Games’ 2019 League Of Legends World Championship Finals.
Over the course of Valorant’s two-month beta testing period, an average of nearly 3 million players logged on each day to play. Fans also demonstrated their enthusiasm for the shooter by watching more than 470 million hours of Valorant closed beta streams on Twitch, the world’s leading service and community for multiplayer entertainment, and Korean video-streaming service AfreecaTV.